The women have had a strong start to their year with a 2-1 record thus far. They have set specific goals to make sure to continue it. Senior player Ava Sadeghi from Glendale, CA, said, “My goals this year for the VC Women’s Tennis Team is to win the Liberty League Championship as well as to make nationals. We have a very strong team, so I think both these goals are very reachable.” They will get their chance to achieve Sadeghi’s goal at Liberty League Championships, which will take place on May 2nd in Ithaca, NY. Another senior player, Samantha Schapiro, from Milford, NJ, had a similar focus on preparing for early May, saying “The goals for VC Women’s Tennis this year are to ultimately play our best tennis by the end of the season and win the Liberty League Title.” And judging by their strong showing so far, the Brewers have a shot at getting where they want to go.
The team has planned a few ways to achieve their goals. “We have also been working on our mental toughness and maintaining a positive demeanor on the court in both practice and in matches,” said Yeates. But mentality alone will not win the women a title or a shot at the NCAA tournament. Keeping a competitive edge is essential to late season success. Yeates continued, “We have been playing lots of matches, both singles and doubles, and working hard on our strength and fitness.”
The team could also use their impressive doubles lineup to help work towards their goals. Sadeghi said, “The key to achieving these goals is to use our skills in doubles. We have a very strong doubles lineup, which should help us gain momentum and for the singles and start with a little bit of an advantage.”
One strength that the team already has going for them is youth. “We have a very solid team, overall and two great seniors who are both incredible tennis players as well as great team leaders,” said Yeates, “We are also a very young team, with a total of 9 underclassmen and only 3 upperclassmen currently on the team. However, amongst the 9 underclassmen there is so much talent, that I can only see positive things for the future of the Vassar Women’s Tennis Team.”
The number of young players also brings depth to the bench, helping to take some of the load off the starters and ensuring that injury won’t ruin the season. “Strengths-we are very deep team, we have many returning players and a large freshman class (5), our team is experienced, and mentally tough on the court, and ultimately we all want to compete and win.”
The Brewers this season are not, of course, without flaws. Even though the large freshman class helps bolster their numbers, VC Women’s Tennis has had issues with injury, “As with all college athletes, it is difficult to manage, injuries and illnesses throughout the year, and we have been pretty fortunate in this regard for the past two years,” said Yeates. And while the team is focusing on mentality this season, it has been one of their weaknesses in the past. “Our ability to focus and clench those tight matches (but we are improving),” said Sadeghi.
With a tough schedule, many of the women’s match-ups will be stiff competition. “We just played Army (West Point) last weekend. They are Division I and proved to be very tough opponents. Our toughest upcoming match-ups this year will most likely be Skidmore (Liberty League match), and the teams we play on our Spring Break trip to California such as Pomona, Chapman, Amherst, La Verne, and Whitman,” said Yeates. After a convincing win against Army, the team has set themselves up for a solid showing this season.
Schapiro believes that the matches outside of the conference and academic calendar will be challenging as well, “Toughest match ups this season: Skidmore, Liberty League opponent, tough matches in the past and also our spring break trip where we play 5 top 30 opponents in 6 days, this will be a mentally and physically challenging week for the team, but we have been preparing for all these matches during practice every day and are ready to step on the court and face our opponents.” Sadeghi shares concerns about the difficulty of training over break, “Our matches in California will be our toughest match-ups because we play teams from the West Coast that we have never played against. It is something completely new.” With such a demanding schedule, the Brewers need to concentrate on keeping themselves healthy and their bench long. “In the upcoming season we will be playing many many matches (1-2 per weekend), so just staying healthy and with no injuries is very important,” said Sadeghi.
Perhaps the women’s greatest asset is their enthusiasm. Though they have only played a few matches, the girls are confident and prepared to perform their best in the coming weeks. The women have a lot to look forward to. Sadeghi said, “I am most excited about our home-matches and the Seven Sisters tournament at Smith College”. Seven Sisters will take place April 11th and 12th and will be held in Northampton, MA. Schapiro acknowledged, “As a senior this year, I have a lot to be excited about. I am excited to be healthy and able to play my last season with my teammates. But I am also looking forward to seeing how the team grows as we spend more time together and play more matches. Ultimately I want to leave Vassar being the best teammate I can be.”